Wed Oct 16 9:51am ET
By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Fournette ready for big Week 7
Well, the season just keeps chugging along. We are about at the halfway point, so it could be now or never for some fantasy teams. Just remember, you have time to get it going. All you need to do is get hot and make the playoffs. It doesn’t matter if you win first overall in your league. You can still win by getting that last spot in the playoffs. The best team all year doesn’t always win their league. So now is the time to start heating up. Make your trades and waiver wire pickups to put your team in the best position for a strong second half. Get it going now!
Now for my random thoughts for the week. . . .
For me, I think the Rams are the most disappointing team in the NFL to date, especially from a fantasy perspective. This offense is really struggling. Just look at last week. The lack of a running game has really impacted the entire offense. Todd Gurley was really the cog in the offense that made things click. He just isn’t healthy and showing like he did the past few years. Plus, you have to figure the rest of the league is figuring things out with the Rams. Defensive coordinators had a whole offseason to adjust to what the Rams have been doing offensively. And Jared Goff seems to have regressed. He just doesn't look very good right now. Not good.
Patrick Mahomes is human. He is fourth overall in fantasy quarterback scoring, which is a bit of a surprise. His receivers are dropping some passes, though, and his running game isn’t doing much. This isn’t great news for Mahomes. Fear not, though. Mahomes can still finish first overall in scoring. He has just hit a little bump in the road. We wouldn’t set off the alarm bells just yet. He still has just one interception all year and thrown for 300-plus yards all but a game.
If you can, I would sell high on Carlos Hyde. He is coming off a season best game and has scores three of four games. I’m just not convinced he keeps up this good play. He has just six receptions all season, which really holds back his fantasy value. And he has 60 or fewer rushing yards three of his last four games. This is still a pass-first team that has issues running the ball. Hyde is not going to keep playing at his current level, especially if you consider his play the last few seasons.
One guy I’m not selling high on is Chris Godwin. I have him in like 80 percent of my leagues and feeling great about that. He had double-digit receptions last week for the second time all year. He is the leading fantasy receiver right now. It is a little bit of a concern seeing Jameis Winston playing poorly but that doesn’t bother me too much. This team can’t run the ball, so I expect them to keep airing it out often despite Winston’s turnover issues. This means Godwin will continue to rack up the catches and yards. It is a lot of fun to watch Godwin have his breakout season. He is the real deal.
The Vikings are becoming a really scary team. Minnesota is playing at a high level right now both offensively and defensively. This is a pretty complete team. The rise of Kirk Cousins takes this offense to a different level and I don’t think it is a fluke. He has two of the best receivers in the game to work with, and Cousins has produced at a high level in recent years. I’m buying his recent play as well as the entire Vikings offense. And we cant forget about Dalvin Cook, having a breakout season at running back. He makes the entire offense go.
So Austin Hooper is first overall in fantasy tight end scoring. I don’t think that is a fluke. He is getting a ton of work and making some big plays along the way. He has 100-yard games two of his last three. He has at least six receptions all but a game in the Falcons pass-happy offense. I really think he can make a run at finishing first overall in tight end scoring. There are a lot of options in this passing game, which is a little bit of a concern, but the Falcons are throwing the ball so much that I’m not sure that matters. Kudos to you if you grabbed Hooper in this year’s draft. He is sure paying off for all those owners that waited on a tight end.
Last week was the first time all year Austin Ekeler was a dud for his fantasy owners. And I’m sorry to say this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens a few more times the rest of the way. The return of Melvin Gordon is really a concern. Gordon started last week and had 11 touches compared to eight for Ekeler. I don’t think I would dump Ekeler unless I get some value in return, but be ready for a few more up and down performances. He is going to be more of a flex play going forward. He’ll still get his weekly touches and receptions, but probably not the volume of past weeks. And I’m not sure Gordon reaches his full fantasy potential with Ekeler around and getting so much work in the passing game. Both these players are hurting the fantasy value of each other.
This didn’t used to be the case, but the trade deadline in the NFL is a lot more active these days. We already have seen several trades happen this week and the deadline isn’t until next week (Tuesday, Oct. 29). This is something to watch for fantasy owners. Trades can really impact fantasy value - good and bad - so keep up with all the trades from around the league when they happen. It could be an interesting week around the league.
As always, don’t forget to check out my weekly rankings here: Week 7 rankings.
News and Notes: The Patriots signed tight end Eric Tomlinson on Tuesday. He gives the team some more depth at the tight end position. . . . .The Browns traded offensive lineman Austin Corbett to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Tuesday. . . . .The Rams traded cornerback Marcus Peters to the Ravens in exchange for linebacker Kenny Young and an undisclosed 2020 draft pick on Tuesday. . . .The Jaguars traded cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for first-round picks in 2020 and 2021, and a fourth-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. . . . .The Titans announced Ryan Tannehill will start the Week 7 game. This sends Marcus Mariota to the bench.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Jaguars. Fournette isn’t having a banner season but a solid one, especially compared to last year. He is ninth overall in fantasy running back scoring and sixth overall in his last three games. Fournette has three straight games with more than 100 total yards. A big plus for him this year is added work in the passing game, having at least four receptions all but a game. He should get a huge workload this week against the Bengals. Cincinnati allows the most fantasy points to running backs. The Bengals have been a disaster against the run, ranking dead last. They allow 185-rushing yards per game.
Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals. Murray is playing at a high level right now, taking advantage of some poor defenses in recent weeks. He has 27-plus fantasy points two straight games. He had his first three-touchdown game of his career last week. Murray is up to seventh overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He is getting it done on a weekly basis. Murray has his third straight poor opponent this week, facing the Giants. New York allows the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank 31st against the pass, allowing 285-passing yards per game.
Robert Woods, WR, Rams. Woods scored his first touchdown of the season last week, which was a rushing score. But even despite a lack of scores, Woods is 26th overall in fantasy receiver scoring. He is capable of the big game in this offense as evident by his huge game in Week 4 against the Bucs. Some fantasy owners might be shying away from the Rams this week after their awful game last week, but a Week 7 matchup against the Falcons should get this offense healthy. The Falcons are 27th against the pass and have allowed 15-passing touchdowns this season.
Devonta Freeman, RB, Falcons. Freeman is starting to show some signs of life rushing the ball. He scored two touchdowns last week and has scores two straight games. He tied a season high in rushing yards last week with 88 yards. The biggest plus for Freeman this year has been his work in the passing game, having at least three receptions every game. This can save his fantasy numbers if he is shutdown rushing the ball. He should find more success this week against the Rams. Los Angeles is reeling right now and are 16th against the run. Freeman could find the end zone, facing a team that has allowed seven rushing touchdowns.
Michael Gallup, WR, Cowboys. Gallup wasn’t great last week, having four receptions for 48 yards on seven targets, but his numbers weren’t terrible. He has 100-yard games two of four and at least six receptions in all but a game. Amari Cooper is hurting, which could make Gallup the No. 1 receiver this week against the Eagles. This is a great matchup for Gallup, getting a team that has allowed the most fantasy points to receivers this year. Gallup can produce elite numbers in Week 7.
LeVeon Bell, RB, Jets. Bell has been pretty mediocre in recent weeks. He scored a touchdown last week, which saved his otherwise poor fantasy games. He had 15 touches for just 53 yards. He has 50 or fewer rushing yards three straight games and his season high in rushing is just 68 yards. Bell had 20-plus fantasy points each of his first two games but done little since. He gets a Patriots team this week that should focus their game plan on shutting down Bell. New England allows the second fewest fantasy points to running backs and just eight points per game.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions. Stafford has been a big surprise this year, ranking 11th overall in fantasy quarterback scoring. He has multiple touchdowns three of five games and at least 245-passing yards all but a game. He is healthy and producing once again. He did fail to score a touchdown last week, though, and has fewer than 15 fantasy points two of his past three games. He has another tough one this week against the Vikings. Minnesota allows the 10th fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and rank seventh overall against the pass.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Broncos. Some might look at the matchup this week and think Sanders is a must start for fantasy teams, getting a Chiefs team that can struggled defensively. But it is sure hard to recommend playing Sanders despite the great matchup. He has two catches for nine yards his last two games. He has 10 or fewer yards three of his last four games. Sure, he could go off in this one, but it is hard to be confident playing him because of his recent play and production. We would just avoid him right now.
Damien Williams, RB, Chiefs. Williams returned to the lineup Week 5, but has done little since his return. He did score a touchdown last week but had just two touches in the game. He has 14 touches for 58 yards his last two games. He is yet to top 30-rushing yards in a game all year. Williams is another player that is hard to trust based on his production all season. He also has a tough matchup this week against the Broncos, a team that has allowed just 18 points per game. It is probably best to just avoid Williams right now.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Redskins. McLaurin has been the best rookie receiver in football this year. He has been great almost every game. He has two 100-yard games and scores four of the five games he has played. He is almost moving into must-start territory. But a game this week against the 49ers is a little worrisome for McClaurin. The 49ers defense has been dominating in recent weeks, especially last week against the Rams. San Francisco totally shutdown the Rams passing attack. The 49ers are first overall against the pass and allow just 13 points per game. It could be a long day for the Redskins offense in this one, making McLaurin a bit of a risky play despite his big numbers this year.
Josh Allen, QB, Bills. Allen hasn’t been off the charts this year but consistent. He has multiple touchdowns three of five games and topped 240-passing yards three games. He has more than 20 fantasy points all but a game. And he is always capable of the big game, giving him added fantasy value. He is setup for one of those big games this week against the lowly Dolphins. Miami allows the second most fantasy points to quarterbacks and are 26th overall against the pass.
Royce Freeman, RB, Broncos. Freeman has not been outstanding all year but pretty consistent, splitting work with starter Phillip Lindsay. He has double-digit carries all but a game. He also has at least four receptions four of six games, which helps his fantasy numbers. He has double-digit fantasy points three of six games. Freeman has value as a flex play, especially this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City was run over by a Texans rushing attack that hadn’t done much all year. The Chiefs are 30th overall against the run, allowing 162-rushing yards per game.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Colts. Brissett has multiple touchdowns all but a game this year. And he has scores every game this season. He has 20-plus fantasy points three of five games. He has done very well as the starter for the Colts and is producing for fantasy teams. He is a spot play, worth using in the right matchup. And this week against the Texans is a good time to use Brissett. The Texans are just 24th overall against the pass and allow the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Brissett is a good bye week or injury replacement for Week 7.
Cole Beasley, WR, Bills. Beasley is yet to score this year but is getting his catches as the slot receiver in this offense. He has three games with double-digit fantasy points and at least three catches every game this season. He also has 75 or more yards two of five games. He can be a help to fantasy teams, especially in a favorable matchup. And a game this week against the Dolphins is a good one for Beasley. The Dolphins are 26th against the pass and give up an whooping 36 points per game.
Darren Fells, TE, Texans. Fells had season highs in catches (six) and yards (69) last week. He has 12 or more fantasy points three of his last four games. The Texans are looking at the tight end more often in recent weeks and Fells is benefitting from the added looks. He is moving up the tight end rankings and worth using for fantasy teams. Fells has a matchup for more good things this week, playing the Colts. Indianapolis has struggled to stop the tight end this year, allowing the third most fantasy points to tight ends.
High/Low Scoring Games
Each week we will take a look at some of the high and low scoring games for the coming week. In high scoring affairs, get your marginal players on those teams in your lineup to take advantage of the possible points barrage. And in the low scoring games, keep those marginal players on the bench and make sure to have your defenses involved in those contests.
High Scoring Games: Rams/Falcons, Texans/Colts, Cardinals/Giants, Eagles/Cowboys.
Low Scoring Games: Chargers/Titans.
Bye Weeks: Panthers, Browns, Steelers, Bucs.
Jeff Paur is a two-time finalist for FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and won the FSWA award for Best Fantasy Football Article on the Web in 2011. He also was the most accurate expert in 2012, winning the FSTA Fantasy Football Accuracy Award. If you have any questions for Jeff, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffpaur.
Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden had some nice things to say about quarterback Derek Carr on Thursday. "I love what Derek Carr did, love what he brings to our team and anxious to continue to build around him," Gruden said. "I really think Derek is a heck of a player and I got a lot of respect for what he has done with some tough circumstances." Carr's future with the Raiders is in question with rumors connecting Las Vegas to Tom Brady, who will become a free agent next month. Carr had a career-high 70.4 completion percentage and threw for a career-high 4,054 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2019. Still, that might've been more of a ceiling for Carr, and the Raiders would love to make a splash in their new home with Brady. If Carr remains the team's QB going into 2020, he'll serve as a low-ceiling QB2.
New York Giants tight end Rhett Ellison (head) is considering retirement after missing the last six games of the 2019 season because of a concussion, according to three NFL sources. The 31-year-old has 67 catches for 674 yards and four touchdowns in 40 games with the Giants and also spent five years with the Vikings. He has a $7.18 million salary cap hit in 2020 with $5 million in savings and only $2.18 million in dead money if he's released or retires. Ellison's contract will need to be reworked if he decides to continue playing. A blocking-first tight end, Ellison is unlikely to have much fantasy appeal next season if he decides against hanging up his cleats.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (neck) is "100 percent in my eyes." Vander Esch is expected to be a full participant by the start of training camp this summer after having his 2019 season cut short due to neck issues that required surgery. It's great news that LVE is progressing nicely, but we'll keep an eye on his progress this spring. If healthy, he's a game-changer in the middle of the defense for the Cowboys, as he proved in his rookie year in 2018. Vander Esch will come at a discount in IDP leagues this fall and could be a nice value pick if he stays on the field.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram (foot) remains in a walking boot after having surgery in late December. The Giants must decide by May whether to pick up Engram's fifth-year option for the 2021 season. He's expected to be sidelined until training camp and has missed 14 games due to injury in his three seasons in the league. The 25-year-old played in just eight games in 2019 and had a career-low 44 catches for 467 yards and three touchdowns. He has high-end tight end potential when he's healthy, but his injuries make him a high-risk, high-reward fantasy selection moving forward.
The Dallas Cowboys met with wide receiver Amari Cooper's representatives on Thursday night, according to a source. The Cowboys want to reach long-term deals with both Cooper and quarterback Dak Prescott. Talks with Cooper should intensify before the start of free agency on March 18, but the transition tag is likely off the table. If the Cowboys use the franchise tag on Prescott, who is the bigger priority, there's a good chance that Cooper reaches the open market. He was a top-10 fantasy wideout in 2019 despite fighting through nagging injuries for much of the season. If he stays with Prescott in Dallas, Cooper will remain a strong WR1.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that defensive end Robert Quinn is "the real deal" and is "hopeful that we can do something to keep him." Quinn's contract is set to expire on March 18. The 29-year-old had 11.5 sacks in his first year in Dallas, but there's a good chance he'll reach the open market. He was a Pro Bowler in 2013-14 and was a first-team All-Pro for the Rams in 2013 when he recorded a career-high 19 sacks. The Cowboys have other pressing business in trying to re-sign both quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper to long-term extensions.
Updating a previous report, New England Patriots impending free-agent quarterback Tom Brady doesn't have an offer from the Patriots, but it's not a huge surprise without a new collective bargaining agreement at this time. However, Brady is in the Patriots plans for the 2020 season. Brady's agent is in Indianapolis this week and is talking with other teams, too. If the Patriots don't work something out with the future Hall of Famer, the Chargers and Raiders are expected to make a run at him, with the Titans also a potential landing spot. Where Brady lands will be the biggest storyline of the offseason. He looked his age in 2019 with a mediocre supporting cast on offense, and fantasy owners can't count on him as a surefire QB1 moving forward, regardless of whether he leaves New England.
The Washington Redskins have had good conversations with left tackle Trent Williams, but the team's attempt to bring him back in 2020 is an ongoing process, according to head coach Ron Rivera. Williams is heading into the last year of his contract and has told the team that he either wants his contract redone or to be traded, according to sources familiar with the situation. The 'Skins have pushed the situation to the backburner with the draft and free agency approaching, so it's still possible that Williams won't be back with Washington in 2020 and beyond. The 31-year-old seven-time Pro Bowler would be a huge asset on the blind side for developing quarterback Dwayne Haskins, but it remains to be seen if the two sides can work something out.
The New England Patriots have yet to reach out to impending free-agent quarterback Tom Brady about a new contract. The Patriots still have time to discuss re-signing Brady, but it's a noteworthy development during the scouting combine this week. Meanwhile Brady's agent, Don Yee, is meeting with quarterback-needy teams at the combine this week. There are rumblings that Brady is likely to land with another team this offseason, with the Titans, Raiders and Chargers being the most likely destinations. For obvious reasons, Brady's free-agent storyline will be the biggest to follow in the coming weeks. He was lacking aerial weapons in 2019 and his arm strength isn't what it used to be, but he could bounce back in 2020.
Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera said that linebacker Ryan Kerrigan and offensive guard Brandon Scherff are both in the team's plans for 2020. The Redskins have also started contract talks with Scherff and his representation. If a deal isn't struck with Scherff, the franchise tag is a possibility. Kerrigan wasn't able to play in a full season for the first time in his career in 2019, playing in 12 games and recording career lows in tackles (25), sacks (5.5) and forced fumbles (one). He's had double-digit sack totals each of the previous three seasons and could bounce back if he stays on the field in 2020. Scherff was the fifth overall pick in 2015 and graded out as one of the top guards in the NFL in 2019.
The Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants are among the teams that could have interest in Seattle Seahawks impending free-agent pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, according to sources. Clowney has a long history of injuries in his six-year career, playing a full season just once in 2017 with the Texans, but he's among the most talented and feared pass-rushers in the league when he's healthy and hitting on all cylinder. The 27-year-old had 31 tackles (21 solo), three sacks, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a touchdown in 13 games for Seattle last year. Both the Colts and Giants have a serious need for pass-rushing help.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan Jr. (core) underwent core muscle surgery in Philadelphia, according to his agent, Jack Bechta. Tonyan was bothered by the injury all year and wasn't able to run the same. In his second season in the NFL in 2019, he had just 10 receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown in 11 games played. Even with Marcedes Lewis a free agent, Tonyan is behind Jimmy Graham and Jace Sternberger on the tight end depth chart and won't have much fantasy appeal heading into the 2020 season.
The Kansas City Chiefs will use the franchise tag on defensive tackle Chris Jones, according to sources. The Chiefs view him in their long-term plans and want to keep him paired with Frank Clark on the defensive line for years to come. The 25-year-old is an excellent run-stuffer up the middle and helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in his fourth season with the team after being a second-round pick in 2016. Jones finished with 36 tackles (23 solo), nine sacks, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 13 regular season games in 2019. He'll be due around $15.5 million under the franchise tag in 2020.
ESPN's Jeff Darlington said on GetUpESPN that he'd now be surprised if New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady re-signed with the team in free agency. "Im now at the point where I would be stunned if Tom Brady went back to New England," Darlington said. The two teams being discussed with the best chances of landing Brady seem to be the Titans and the Raiders. If Tennessee goes after Brady, it means that they will let Ryan Tannehill walk in free agency. The Raiders have soured on Derek Carr and are looking to make a splash in their first year in Las Vegas. The Chargers could be a dark-horse candidate after they moved on from Philip Rivers. Brady is at the end of his career and probably shouldn't be drafted as a QB1 in fantasy, especially if he lands with the run-first Titans.
The Buffalo Bills have talked with free-agent cornerback Josh Norman, according to general manager Brandon Beane, but nothing is imminent. Norman was recently released from the Redskins and has ties to both Beane and head coach Sean McDermott from their time together with the Panthers. Norman was drafted with Beane in the Carolina front office, and he was an All-Pro with McDermott as his defensive coordinator, so a match makes sense on paper. But the former fifth-round pick in 2012 is a shell of his former Pro Bowl self and was benched late in the year in Washington in 2019. Norman played in just 12 games and recorded 40 tackles (33 solo), one sack, one forced fumble and one interception.
While the San Francisco 49ers think wide receiver Marquise Goodwin is too valuable to straight up cut, they are open to trading him, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. Goodwin has two years left on his current deal and is scheduled to make $3.95 million in base salary in 2020 while counting $4.906 million against the salary cap. The 29-year-old played in just nine games in 2019 because of injury and had 12 catches for 186 yards and a touchdown. If he returns, he'd be competing with Jalen Hurd, Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor for a role behind Deebo Samuel in the passing attack. The 29-year-old has game-changing speed but has never played a full season in his seven years in the NFL and hasn't scored more than four TDs in a single season. He could benefit from a change of scenery but will have to rehab his fantasy value and stay healthy.
The Dallas Cowboys and Todd France, the agent for quarterback Dak Prescott, had discussions on Wednesday regarding a long-term contract extension for the first time since September of last year. The meeting didn't last long, but the Cowboys are hoping to get a long-term deal done before needing to use the franchise tag on Prescott. If Dallas can get Prescott locked up soon, they could save the franchise or transition tag for impending free-agent wide receiver Amari Cooper. Prescott put up great numbers under center in 2019 despite the Cowboys underwhelming as a whole and finishing outside of the playoff picture. One way or another he's staying put, making him a high-end QB1 entering the 2020 season for fantasy owners.
Washington Redskins impending free-agent quarterback Case Keenum is on the Cleveland Browns' radar, according to a league source. Cleveland is looking to bring in a veteran backup to Baker Mayfield that can help him grow and develop after a disappointing 2019 campaign. Drew Stanton missed all of last season with a knee injury and will be a free agent himself next month. Keenum, 32, worked with head coach Kevin Stefanski with the Vikings in 2017 when he led the team to an 11-3 record. He's thrown for 14,368 yards, 75 touchdowns and 47 interceptions for a career passer rating of 85.3, but he'd just be holding the clipboard for Mayfield in Cleveland.
Denver Broncos defensive end Bradley Chubb (knee) will not take part in organized team activities this spring, but he will be ready for training camp. Chubb, the fifth overall pick in 2018, is recovering from a torn ACL that cost him 12 games in his sophomore season. The 23-year-old wasted no time doing damage in his rookie season with 60 total tackles and 12 sacks, so he should return to being a force across from Von Miller in 2020 if he avoids the injury bug. Denver's D will likely go undrafted in standard-sized formats this year, but they could easily wind up being owned in the majority of leagues by the end of the year in head coach Vic Fangio's second season.
The Cleveland Browns are expected to pursue Chicago Bears impending free-agent quarterback Chase Daniel when free agency begins. The Browns need a strong veteran backup behind Baker Mayfield next season. Cleveland's backup last year was Drew Stanton, but he's set to be a free agent next month as well. Behind him was Garrett Gilbert. Daniel played in parts of eight games for the Bears in the last two seasons, throwing six touchdowns and four interceptions. He'd only be in the mix as a low-end QB2 if he were to sign with the Browns and Mayfield were to get hurt in 2020 and miss some time.